I have been given a budget to grow my skillset and industry knowledge. I want to invest my time and money in a certification or conference that will be valuable. Any recommendations?
You don't need any "UX" certification. It lately became a buzz word for many who don't know that there is real science, centered on human perception and cognition, behind it. It is often used for in an attempt to fancy up. It is a discipline that seeks to understand all of the ways that a person using a product. The best way to learn it by exploring yourself and implenting in your own projects.
But there are many valuable sources that can help you. I can link some urls here as soon as I hit home.
Thank you, for your insight!
Conferences are always hit or miss. The best conference I went to become a one hit wonder, while other bigger ones were more a waste of time at least in the east coast. However, if you like to network and go out for drinks, its a nice way to connect with the industry to see what everyone else is doing.
For UX certifications, they are only good on proposals. This could be a perk more for your company then you.
What coast do you live on?
I live on the east coast (FL). I was looking into UX Week in San Fran, I kinda feel the way you do about conferences being a waste of time. I want to learn and grow. I feel like sometimes that happens in really unexpected environments. Just being present in the right place at the right time can bring a load of value. That is why I thought i would reach out to the community for differing perspectives.